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“Beyond Women’s Powers of Endurance”: The 1928 800-Meter and Women’s Olympic Track and Field in the Context of the United States

Colleen English

-meter race, within a broader American cultural milieu about women’s health and sport, demonstrates how the media and sport governing bodies intersect with ideologies of femininity. In particular, the 800-meter race highlights a tension between progressive American ideologies about equality and liberty

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Women’s Bodies, Femininity, and Spacetimemattering: A Baradian Analysis of the Activewear Phenomenon

Julie E. Brice

spacetimemattering, to think about feminist politics and the production of femininity within the activewear phenomenon. Arising in part from a critique of anthropocentrism (a focus on human interests over other species, animals, and nonhuman matter) and logocentrism (privileging of human language and texts), which

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Undoing Gender or Overdoing Gender? Women MMA Athletes’ Intimate Partnering and the Relational Maintenance of Femininity

Justen Hamilton

Recent scholarship on women in combat sports has devoted substantial attention to the arena of martial arts and combat sports (MACS) as a space for women to challenge gender norms and construct new femininities (e.g.,  Channon, 2014 ; Channon & Phipps, 2017 ; Davies & Deckert, 2018 ; Maclean

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The Discourse of Gender and Sport: From Femininity to Feminism

M. Ann Hall

The argument presented here is that the sociological discourse of gender and sport, in other words the way the topic is approached, the assumptions surrounding its investigation, and the ways in which new knowledge is generated has been determined without sufficient recognition of its own ideological foundations. Gender, it is argued, is a major social and theoretical category that, along with social class, race, age, ethnicity, and others, must be incorporated into all theoretically based social analyses of sport. The paper reviews the development of the gender and sport discourse from its origins in social psychological research that focused on the supposed conflict between femininity and athleticism, to the more sophisticated yet functionalist notion of “sex roles” and its application to sport, and finally to the emerging feminist paradigm that is informed by a growing body of feminist social theory. The final section argues for a transformation of the gender and sport discourse toward a truly emancipatory one and provides some concrete suggestions as to how to bring this about.

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Flirting With the Judges: Bikini Fitness Competitors’ Negotiations of Femininity in Bodybuilding Competitions

Bahar Tajrobehkar

Women’s bodybuilding manifestly challenges hegemonic understandings of the female body as weak, fragile, and limited. Because it has acquired characteristics that are traditionally deemed masculine, the muscular woman is thought to be in need of having her femininity “restored”. Perhaps for this reason, in bodybuilding competitions, female competitors are required to display femininity and implied heterosexuality on stage through their attitude, gestures, posing, make-up, hairstyle, and adornments. The aim of this study was to examine the experiences of competitors in the Bikini category to understand the ways in which they perceive and negotiate the expectations of idealized femininity within bodybuilding competitions. Semi-structured interviews, supplemented with ethnographic fieldwork, were conducted with nine female bodybuilding competitors. The data gathered indicated the contradictory views that some female bodybuilders hold of female muscularity and of femininity. The participants were able to negotiate the judging criteria, albeit at times reluctantly and with frequent expressions of criticism and disapproval.

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Strike a Pose! The Femininity Effect in Collegiate Women’s Sport

Michela Musto and P.J. McGann

The apologetic strategies women employ to manage the cultural tension between athleticism and hegemonic femininity are well documented. Existing research, however, tends to be small-scale. The cumulative symbolic implications of female athlete appearance on cultural ideals remain under-theorized as a result. Our quantitative content analysis of a stratified, random sample of 4,799 collegiate women athletes’ roster photos examined whether sport, school type, and geographical location are related to gendered appearance. Despite important contextual variation, we found overwhelming homogeneity across settings. Our results suggest that the normalization of women’s athleticism is limited and depends on subordinated femininities. Thus, despite some positive changes, team sport still helps stabilize and naturalize the gender order.

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Discipline and Push-Up: Female Bodies, Femininity, and Sexuality in Popular Representations of Sports Bras

Jaime Schultz

The invention of the commercial sports bra in 1977 was a significant advancement for physically active women. Despite its humble origins as an enabling technology, the sports bra has since been invested with new and varied cultural meanings and currencies. In this article I critically read popular representations of sports bras, specifically advertisements and “iconic sports-bra moments” that circulate around Brandi Chastain’s celebration of the U.S. women’s soccer team’s victory in the 1999 World Cup. I argue that such representations sexualize sports bras and the women who wear them. In addition, these representations homogenize and normalize ideals of femininity, which are considered achievable through technologies of disciplined body management, and reproduce the traditional gender order.

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Public and Private Spaces: Sport and the Construction of Middle Class Femininity in Sydney Independent Girls’ Schools 1880-1922

Steve Georgakis

This article documents the history of sport in independent girls’ schools in Sydney, Australia, from the introduction of compulsory education in 1880 until the formation of the Girls Secondary School Sports Union in 1922 to organize interschool sporting connections. While there have been many vigorous studies that have followed the history of sport in Australian independent boys’ schools, this has not been replicated in the role of sport in Australian independent girls’ schools. The Australian independent girls’ school sector, however, accounts for a significant portion of the total student population. This article demonstrates that sport was significant in Australian independent girls’ schools and became dominant to the education of middle class girls. Modeled after the English Public Schools that had embraced the educational ideology of ‘athleticism’, Australian girls’ independent schools also reinforced the ideology that sport was a part of a well-rounded education. By the early 1920s sport was part of the independent girls’ schools extracurricular accomplishments and the sporting landscape became a ‘public space’ where middle-class femininity was constructed.

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Mujeres en Movimiento. Deporte, cultura física y feminidades. Argentina, 1870-1980 [Women in Movement. Sport, physical culture and femininities. Argentina, 1870-1980].

Valeria Varea

By Pablo Scharagrodsky. Published in 2016 by Prometeo libros (354 pp., $22 USD , paperback) Mujeres en Movimiento is a magnificent historical tome centering on the problematization of sexual bodies and femininities in physical cultures in South America, with a particular focus on Argentina. The

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Femininity and the Physically Active Woman

Margaret S. Kelley and Maria J. Veri